Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Basic science for the chest physician
It's a MALDI but it's a goodie: MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry for microbial identification


The last few years have witnessed a revolution in the diagnostic microbiology laboratory with the emergence of matrix assisted laser desorption/ionisation time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) as an indispensible tool in microbial identification. In many laboratories this has superseded biochemical profiling. A mass spectrum is acquired from an unknown micro-organism and this proteomic fingerprint is then compared with a database of reference spectra to ascertain the likely genus and species identity. The reproducibility of this method is facilitated by the analysis of continually produced, highly abundant proteins (mainly ribosomal proteins) in the mass range 2000 to 20 000 Da. MALDI-TOF MS is reliable and rapid and has the ability to determine the identity of an isolate from culture in a matter of minutes rather than the hours or days required by more traditional methods. In addition to microbial identification of cultured isolates, work is underway to extend the utility of MALDI-TOF MS to include bacterial identification directly from clinical samples as well as providing timely information regarding antibiotic resistance and typing of different micro-organisms.

  • Bacterial Infection

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.